Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Week of Good-Byes

This week has been a lot more emotional for me than I originally thought. What was supposed to be a week of relief as this disaster of a season came to an end, was instead a week filled with sadness, memories, nostalgia, and- I’ll admit it (and I can do this because I’m probably the only Sox blogger who is a chick)- a few tears.

It started last Sunday, at a showing of Moneyball. The storyline was a little too close to home this season. Sure, the story of the A’s is a story of underdogs payroll-wise, but the story of a struggle between GM and manager could have been lifted from our own headlines. There is a moment in the story, where the GM dictates to the coach that he built that particular team to be played a certain way. It made me wonder how GM envisioned the Sox this year. Was it his fault for giving Ozzie too many options, or did Ozzie just make all the wrong choices? Which brought us to Monday…

The announcement that Ozzie was leaving left me with lukewarm feelings, thinking back on Ozzie’s career with the Sox. For most of the younger Sox fans, including a handful of us bloggers, Ozzie is really all we know. Those in their 20s are too young to remember anything memorable of the past managers. It’s easy to remember a player when you’re a kid. It’s not so easy to remember someone who sits on the bench. Unless, of course, that someone is Ozzie. Ozzie was, for better or worse, the face of the Sox. He made a name for himself by speaking his mind- even if the thoughts he was expressing were muddled or in Spanish. He stuck up for his players and led them to a memorable World Series win. Was his song and dance getting old? To many, yes. But it is still the end of an era, and as such I can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness.

Now multiply that twinge of sadness by about 6,000. Those were my feelings in realizing last night may have been Buehrle’s last game in a White Sox uniform. I plopped myself down in front of the TV around 6PM and immersed myself in the pregame show, interviews with Kenny from the previous day, and a little chat from the local sports guys. By the time the game started, I was already feeling the momentousness of the occasion.

I don’t need to enumerate his accomplishments in the black and white uniform. We all know too well about his surprising talent despite his surprisingly slow fastball. And we know him as a guy with a smile on his face, who was part of the 2005 gang.

I desperately try to cling to the gang, but I’m beginning to feel like the Black Knight of Monty Python fame clinging to his limbs. Crede is gone, Buehrle’s contract is over, Ozzie has moved on, Pods, Dye, Jenks, Uribe, etc, etc, etc, etc… AJ and Paulie are all that’s left. The rest are elsewhere or, like Dye and Crede, retired.

When I thought the game couldn’t get more emotional for me and carry more meaning, I realized Joe Crede was throwing the first pitch. I later read an article Chuck Garfien wrote about his battle with back pain and the end of his career. He returned to Chicago, where he is still revered by fans, and where the organization still recognizes him. Pair that with his pal and fellow Missourian Mark Buehrle’s emotional night and I had goose bumps all night. There was an electric feel in the air. Rain was pouring down, the manager’s chair had Don Cooper in it, Mark Buehrle took his curtain call, and it was clear that a new era is being ushered in. A new time, with new players, but a tradition that spans generations.

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